Article by Jacquie Miller, Ottawa Sun
Canada’s medical marijuana growers will have to start testing all their products for unauthorized pesticides, says Health Canada, stepping up the government’s response to concerns about tainted marijuana.
The policy was announced Friday night as the department released test results that showed another marijuana producer, Ontario-based Peace Naturals Project Inc., had a plant test positive for a pesticide ingredient not approved for use on cannabis. Peace Naturals identified the source of the problem as cross-contamination from a product used to sanitize a plant harvest room.
On Tuesday, Gatineau’s The Hydropothecary Corporation voluntarily suspended sales after Health Canada informed the company that myclobutanil, an unapproved pesticide, had been found on plant leaves.
The 43 producers licensed by Health Canada provide medical marijuana for more than 130,000 patients across Canada. Health Canada requires the companies to test for mould, heavy metals, and harmful bacteria, but has relied on them to police themselves when it comes to pesticide use.
That changed Friday, when Health Canada said mandatory pesticide testing was necessary to “ensure that Canadians can continue to have confidence in obtaining safe, quality-controlled medical cannabis.”
Only 17 pesticides are approved for use on cannabis, the department warned in a statement. “There are no exceptions to these requirements, and no situations in which using a pesticide that is not authorized … for cannabis cultivation would be acceptable.”
Concern has been growing in the last several months, after three marijuana producers recalled products found to contain unapproved pesticides, including myclobutanil. Some patients who say tainted marijuana made them sick have joined three class-action lawsuits now seeking certification in the courts.
Myclobutanil has been used by illegal pot growers to control mould. The pesticide is approved for use on some fruits and vegetables, but not for plants that are dried and smoked.
Health Canada maintained that the levels of myclobutanil found in the recalled products from legal producers would not cause serious health problems. But officials also stepped up enforcement. In March they began a series of random, unannounced inspections to test plants, dried weed, cannabis oils and pest-control products for unapproved pesticides.